Best Criminal Court Judge (2004)

Michael McSpadden, 209th District Court In an era of turnover on the benches, Judge Michael McSpadden provides a blessed balance for beleaguered citizens. He drew criticism in his early years for being an outspoken advocate on nearly every front -- from voluntary castration options for sex offenders to depoliticizing the justice system. But in these homogenized times, more than a few courthouse regulars would love this warrior to mount the occasional crusade again. Perhaps McSpadden has mellowed. No matter: What's most important is his determination to be fair to all sides, and to conduct his court with the kind of old-school decorum that brings refreshing dignity to the system. In that, he has succeeded. And with his kind of integrity, he'll be succeeding at it for another quarter-century.

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